Olympic leaders agree on independent drug-testing system

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LONDON (AP) — In a shake-up of the drug-testing system in sports, Olympic leaders agreed Saturday that testing should be independent of sports organizations and urged the World Anti-Doping Agency to take over the responsibility on a global level.

In a separate decision, the IOC said competitions run by international federations or national Olympic bodies must allow entry to athletes from all member countries and give them equal treatment, or else the event will not be given Olympic qualifying status. The move addresses the issue of Israeli athletes being denied entry to some countries.

Doping topped the agenda of the “Olympic Summit” convened in Lausanne, Switzerland, by IOC President Thomas Bach. The meeting was attended by members of the IOC’s rule-making executive board, and leaders of international federations and national Olympic committees.

The group “decided to make anti-doping testing independent from sports organizations,” the IOC said in a statement. “The summit requested WADA to study taking responsibility for testing as the global center of competence in anti-doping.”

The study will be carried out by a WADA working group that includes Olympic leaders and government representatives. No time frame was given.

The move is aimed at giving more credibility to drug-testing by taking it out of the hands of sports bodies and event organizers and turning it over to an independent body.

Federations have been viewed as partial in drug-testing and less willing to uncover cheating in their own sport. Critics say the current system has an inherent conflict of interest.

Putting the testing in independent hands would introduce more legitimacy to the system, the Olympic leaders believe.

Sebastian Coe, the recently elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, has called for an independent body to handle drug-testing in track and field. He was among those who attended Saturday’s summit.

WADA, which was set up in 1999 to oversee anti-doping efforts around the world, does not carry out its own testing. It accredits labs around the world, which analyze samples.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the Montreal-based body — headed by IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain — would be willing to expand its role by taking over independent testing across the board.

Such a move would require a major change in funding. Money that federations and other bodies spend on testing would have to be transferred to WADA or any other independent body set up for the testing.

Under the proposal, while the testing itself would be handled independently, the disciplinary procedures and sanctioning would be done by the federations.

It also wasn’t clear how the new system would affect the testing program at the Olympic Games. Traditionally, the testing is run by the IOC and the local organizing committee.

On another issue, the IOC dealt with the discrimination toward athletes from certain countries, without mentioning Israel by name.

“The summit agreed that for all competitions taking place under the auspices of an IF or NOC or their continental or regional associations, it has to be ensured that all athletes from all their members can enter a country to compete and are treated equally,” the statement said.

In August, an Israeli badminton player was denied a visa to compete in the world championships in Indonesia until the last minute and after intervention by the international federation.

Last year, the IOC issued a warning to the world baseball and softball confederation after an Israeli delegate was barred from displaying his national flag at a meeting in Tunisia.

The IOC is also concerned that athletes from Kosovo — which the IOC formally recognized in December 2014 — could face difficulties in some countries.

Saturday’s summit also urged sports bodies to comply with standards of good governance, reviewed the progress in setting up a digital Olympic Channel and hailed the bidding process that brought in five candidate cities — Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome — for the 2024 Games.

Among those attending the meeting were Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti who heads the global association of national Olympic bodies; acting FIFA President Issa Hayatou; and the heads of the U.S., Russian and Chinese Olympic committees.

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Francesco Friedrich, most decorated bobsledder in history, rebounds for 12th world title

Francesco Friedrich
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A week after his first major championships defeat in seven years, German Francesco Friedrich returned to his winning ways to close the world bobsled championships on Sunday.

Friedrich’s four-man sled won the world title by 69 hundredths of a second over British and Latvian sleds that tied for silver, combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Geoff Gadbois drove the lone U.S. sled in the field, finishing 18th.

Friedrich, the most decorated bobsledder in history, extended his records with a fifth consecutive world four-man title and 12th world championship between two- and four-man events.

Germany swept all four titles at bobsled worlds with four different drivers taking gold.

Friedrich had won 12 consecutive Olympic or world titles before taking two-man silver at worlds last week in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He was dethroned in that event by countryman Johannes Lochner.

Friedrich has been hampered recently by a muscle injury from sprint training in late December. Going into worlds, Lochner had won four consecutive World Cup two-man races, while Hall won the last two World Cups in four-man.

Friedrich, 32, said before this season that he plans to make the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games his final competition. Friedrich and push athlete Thorsten Margis can break the record of four career Olympic bobsled gold medals that they currently share with retired Germans Andre Lange and Kevin Kuske.

The World Cup season concludes with stops in Igls, Austria, and Sigulda, Latvia, the next two weekends.

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2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships TV, live stream schedule

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Every race of the world Alpine skiing championships airs live on Peacock from Feb. 6-19.

France hosts the biennial worlds in Meribel and Courchevel — six women’s races, six men’s races and one mixed-gender team event.

Mikaela Shiffrin is the headliner, in the midst of her most successful season in four years with a tour-leading 11 World Cup wins in 23 starts. Shiffrin is up to 85 career World Cup victories, one shy of Ingemar Stenmark‘s record accumulated over the 1970s and ’80s.

World championships races do not count in the World Cup tally.

Shiffrin is expected to race at least four times at worlds, starting with Monday’s combined. She earned a medal in 11 of her 13 career world championships races, including each of the last 10 dating to 2015.

Shiffrin won at least one race at each of the last five world championships (nobody has gold from six different worlds). Her six total golds and 11 total medals are American records. At this edition, she can become the most decorated skier in modern world championships history from any nation.

She enters one medal shy of the record for most individual world championships medals since World War II (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt) and four medals shy of the all-time record. (Worlds were held annually in the 1930s, albeit with fewer races.)

She is also one gold medal shy of the post-World War II individual record shared by Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson.

The other favorites at these worlds include Italian Sofia Goggia, the world’s top female downhiller this season, and the two leading men: Swiss Marco Odermatt (No. 1 in super-G and giant slalom) and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (No. 1 in downhill).

2023 World Alpine Skiing Championships Broadcast Schedule

Date Event Time (ET) Platform
Mon., Feb. 6 Women’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Tues., Feb. 7 Men’s Combined Super-G Run 5 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Combined Slalom Run 8:30 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 8 Women’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 9 Men’s Super-G 5:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 11 Women’s Downhill 5 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 12 Men’s Downhill 5 a.m Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Tue., Feb. 14 Team Parallel 6:15 a.m. Peacock
Men’s/Women’s Parallel Qualifying 11 a.m. Peacock
Wed., Feb. 15 Men’s/Women’s Parallel 6 a.m. Peacock
Thu., Feb. 16 Women’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Fri., Feb. 17 Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Giant Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Sat., Feb. 18 Women’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Women’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 2:30 p.m.* NBC, Peacock
Sun., Feb. 19 Men’s Slalom Run 1 4 a.m. Peacock
Men’s Slalom Run 2 7:30 a.m. Peacock
Highlights 3 p.m.* NBC, Peacock

*Delayed broadcast
*All NBC coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for TV subscribers.

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